UPDATE 7/19: The Chipotle store in Sterling, Virginia that shuttered yesterday following a suspected norovirus outbreak is reopening for business on Wednesday. Per the New York Times, the chain says "multiple teams performed complete sanitizations of all surfaces."
An unfortunate case of deja vu for Chipotle: The embattled burrito chain has temporarily shuttered a store in Sterling, Virginia following a suspected norovirus outbreak, Business Insider reports.
At least 13 people reported illnesses via the website iwaspoisoned.com after eating at the Sterling location on July 14 or 15; symptoms reportedly included fever, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness, and two people claimed to have been hospitalized as a result.
Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, Jim Marsden, acknowledged the illnesses in a statement:
We are aware of a small number of reported illnesses isolated to a single restaurant in Sterling, Virginia on Tripleseven Road, and have notified local health department officials. We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today.
We take every report of illness seriously. In accordance with our established protocols, our team is working to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, including voluntarily closing the restaurant yesterday to conduct a complete sanitization.
Chipotle’s stock took a quick nosedive following the news; after starting the morning around $395, it’s currently hovering below $370.
While norovirus does not originate from food, as Marsden notes, it can be passed via food by foodservice workers who are ill. And Chipotle is certainly no stranger to norovirus outbreaks: Back in December 2015, as the company was already deep in the throes of an E. coli-related crisis, more than 100 Boston College students were sickened with norovirus after eating at a Chipotle near campus.
The fallout from Chipotle’s 2015 food safety crisis was severe: Its profits plummeted by 95 percent in 2016, and it’s also been the target of numerous high-dollar lawsuits from victims as well as a criminal investigation.
• Chipotle Shuts Down Restaurant After Customers Get Severely Ill [Business Insider]
• Tracking Chipotle’s Food Safety Disaster [E]